Geomorphology of Desert Environments

Module code: GY3351

Module co-ordinator: Dr Mark Powell

Module Outline

This module will provide students with an advanced level understanding of landscape process and evolution within the world’s deserts and dryland regions. The module can be seen as a lecture-based version of the California drylands field trip; either this module OR GY3091 may be selected, but not both. The module will consider how geomorphic processes operate within drylands, at both the event-scale and over long-timescales to create a landscape that is both distinctive and diverse. Examples will be drawn directly from teaching staff’s research interests. The module will be delivered via lectures, tutorials and a "mini conference" afternoon featuring research talks from staff, and a guest speaker as well as assessed student presentations. The lecture series will be split into 7 units (listed below). Associated with units 2-7 will be an assessment activity ("element"), two of which will be ultimately selected by the student for submission as pieces of assessed coursework. This is designed to allow students to focus on aspects of the course that most interest them and which might complement their wider geographic interests.

Module Topics

  1. Introduction/context
  2. Weathering processes
  3. Hillslope processes
  4. River systems
  5. Playa systems
  6. Aeolian systems
  7. Environmental change in Deserts


The final assessment element will comprise a poster presentation that will focus on a case study topics. Production of this presentation will be supported by a series of small group tutorials with relevant staff. The presentations will form part of a "Desert Conference" towards the end of the module, which will be attended by all staff involved in the module.